Archive for the ‘Humor’ Category

So, still reeling (sorry) over the post on Horror Movie Dances (see April 4), are we ready for something now for the children?  Ah, the internet!  To bridge the generation gap then, let us consider “8 Dark Kids Shows You Can Watch With Your Little Weirdos,” courtesy of Jinx Strange on DIRGEMAG.COM.  I still remember Billy and Mandy (the latter of whom, in a way, helped inspire a story of mine called “Dead Girls, Dying Girls”) and INVADER ZIM, and perhaps local goth cat Triana might also like to meet COURAGE THE COWARDLY DOG.  But there are some others that look interesting too, so let us peruse them together by pressing here!

MEET CUTE (cf. November 23), the flash fiction anthology of unexpected, eccentric, or just unusual meetings of couples, has had a few changes in scope, according to Editor Kara Landhuis.  An immediate one is a change in pre-publication funding from Kickstarter to Indiegogo, deemed a better fit for a smaller publication’s actual needs.  For other news, publication is tentatively planned for January for distribution in February; the funding project itself will close December 31.  meetcute

As Ms. Landhuis explains, MEET CUTE was born out of a love for several things, most notably:  Storytelling and connection.  I wanted to create a book that celebrates human connection, and I thought there was no better way than to invite writers and illustrators to collaborate.  MEET CUTE will include around 20 short stories (very short — fewer than 1000 words each) written by writers from around the world.  There will also be 10-15 black and white illustrations that enrich the stories.  My own entry in this is “Butterfly,” a saga of forests and fairytales — or was that insects and axes?  To find out more, one will just have to buy the book, or for an inside track, check out the Indygogo crowdfunder by clicking here.

In other action, The Bloomington Writers Guild’s December business meeting and end-of-year party was Saturday afternoon.  As in previous years, it ended with an open reading for about a dozen participants, my contribution (in lieu of a story which I suggested I’d save for February’s First Sunday Prose, as being perhaps a bit long for this session) was three Santa Claus poems, posing the question — especially in the case of the first two, which also appear in my collection VAMPS — do we really need Krampus?

I had had to skip the open mike part of last week’s Last Sunday Poetry due to getting ready for early check-in for my “Raising the Dead” reading at that evening’s Ryder Film Festival (see October 31).  This week, however, all was on schedule for November’s “First Sunday Prose Reading and Open Mic” (cf. October 3, et al.) with local short fiction writer Tom Bitters and a tale of young love nearly torpedoed by an inflatable doll named Mistress Ping; poetry and prose performer Gabriel Peoples with the rambling and funny quasi-historical “The Story of Jack Daniels,” including audience participation; and First Sundays MC and co-sponsor (with host venue Boxcar Books) Bloomington Writers Guild member Joan Hawkins with more of young love, the “Ballad of Renee and Buzz,” and the start of a second piece, both examples of creative nonfiction.

The crowd was reasonably large at the start although, as sometimes happens, it thinned down to about half its size during the break, after which two people read at the open mike session, me and local poet and essayist and sometimes short fiction writer Tonia Matthews.  My piece this time was of young love also,”Smashing Pumpkins,” that of the vampires Aloysius and Vendetta in an adventure of Halloween, ice-blood (or is it “bloodcream”) cones, and rampaging clowns, all ending up with a trip to the polls on Election Day.

Saturday this week offered a farewell of sorts, afternoon and evening retrospectives as a final tip of the hat to ten years of the Dark Carnival Film Festival, a.k.a. in its final sessions, Diabolique International Film Festival at the Indiana University Cinema (cf. September 28 2015; September 21, 20, 19 2014).  These were films from past years, fifteen shorts for the matinee session that proved to be favorites from previous screenings, some that I’d seen before, some that I hadn’t, starting with one in a dentist’s office and ending with killer shopping carts, and by small boys reading an Ancient Tome from their devil-worshiping deceased grandfather’s chest.  The best of these tended to be black humor, of which there were quite a few, while another trend was for movies that set up horror situations, then left the outcomes to viewers’ imaginations.

Then evening brought, taint02well, to quote the catalog:  Long one of the Dark Carnival Film Festival’s favorite features, THE TAINT is a throwback to classic Troma films — with all the goopy horror and absurd humor that implies.  Tainted water begins turning men into misogynistic head-smashing psychopaths, and our two young heroes must brave the bizarre world that results in order to find a cure.  Contains mature content, including violence, language, and sexuality.  To which the docent offered before the screening, “A great one to go out on . . . a very extreme film,” and, “offensive is a dime a dozen [but] is wonderfully measured.  [Director Drew Bolduc] knows exactly what he’s doing.”

Or as Kevin Dudley on Amazon put it:  one particular quote from the Fangoria.com review stated “THE TAINT is exactly what happens when smart filmmakers intentionally make a stupid taint1movie.”  The basic plot involves an experimental penis enlargement drug that turns men into oversexed misogynistic maniacs is unleashed into the public water supply and all manners of depravity cut loose.  To which I might add, while not one to invite the whole family to, as Troma films go it was not a bad one.

Then back at home, Saturday’s street mail brought its own prize, Flame Tree Publishing’s deluxe edition of MURDER MAYHEM SHORT STORIES (see September 6, July 11, et al.).  My story in this is “Mr. Happy Head,” originally published in WICKED MYSTIC, Spring 1996, and sandwiched between Dick Donovan (J. E. Preston Muddock, 1843-1934, who took his pen name from his fictional Glasgow detective, who in turn, some theorize, supplied the slang term “dick” [to pardon the expression] for an American private detective) and, in a non-Sherlock Holmes adventure, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

Also expected from Flame Tree Publishing is CRIME & MYSTERY SHORT STORIES, for which keep watching here.

“Yes, we’ve been at this for twenty years now!

“Ten years ago we published FLUSH FICTION, VOLUME I:  STORIES TO BE READ IN ONE SITTING.  Now, only ten years later, we’re doing it again. Once again these amazing writers are saying it in — well, most of them in less than a thousand words!”

Such is the blurb for FLUSH FICTION II:  TWENTY YEARS OF LETTING IT GO (cf. May 21, March 27), which arrived in my mailbox today.  Edited by Selina Rosen, this celebrates Yard Dog Flush 2twenty years of publishing by Yard Dog Press in the press’s charmingly unpretentious way.  In fact, two other posts here can be found on August 1 2013 and April 8 2011, or thereabouts, noting not just the first FLUSH FICTION but their BUBBAS OF THE APOCALYPSE series, in which I have stories in four of five volumes, as well.

My entry in this one, published in June, is called “Killer Kudzu,” a tale of horticulture gone bad in the American South.  And without a happy ending either, but perhaps shocking enough to scare the. . . .  Well you get the idea, and to see for yourself (plus explore around to see more of the Arkansas ambience of Yard Dog Press) as well as perhaps buy a copy press here.

“THE MUSEUM OF ALL THINGS AWESOME AND THAT GO BOOM is an anthology of science fiction featuring blunt force trauma, explosions, adventure, derring-do, tigers, Martians, zombies, fanged monsters, dinosaurs (alien and domestic), ray guns, rocket ships, and anthropomorphized marshmallows.”  So it says on Kindle where Upper Rubber Boot Boom61YDDmiN1lL._SX373_BO1,204,203,200_Books’s eclectic (to say the least) anthology has now been posted.  Curious or wish to order? press here.  Or for pre-ordering both print and/or electronic versions, plus a plethera of other info, one can visit the Museum’s own gift shop by pressing here.  So says Editor/Publisher Joanne Merriam.

As for me, remember the TERROR TREE PUN BOOK and “Olé Bubba and the Forty Steves” (cf. June 22 et al.)?  Well here we have another Bubba (a Bubba brother?) in a tongue-in-cheek tale of Christmas gone wrong, “Bubba Claus Conquers the Martians” (cf. June 13, March 17, et al.), originally published in HOUSTON, WE’VE GOT BUBBAS (Yard Dog Press, 2007).  With  . . .  zombies.

TABLE OF CONTENTS (so okay, you saw it March 17 too, but so much stuff in it. . . .)

Khadija Anderson, “Observational Couplets upon returning to Los Angeles from Outer Space”
Xochitl-Julisa Bermejo, “Photograph of a Secret”
Kristin Bock, “I Wish I Could Write a Poem about Pole-Vaulting Robots”
Alicia Cole, “Asteroid Orphan”
Jim Comer, “Soldier’s Coat”
James Dorr, “Bubba Claus Conquers the Martians”
Aidan Doyle, “Mr. Nine and the Gentleman Ghost”
matagb-dorr-001-150x150Tom Doyle, “Crossing Borders”
Estíbaliz Espinosa, “Dissidence” (translated by Neil Anderson)
Kendra Fortmeyer, “Squaline”
Miriam Bird Greenberg, “Brazilian Telephone”
Benjamin Grossberg, “The Space Traveler and Runaway Stars”
Julie Bloss Kelsey, two scifaiku
Nick Kocz, “The Last American Tiger”
David C. Kopaska-Merkel, “Captain Marshmallow”
Ken Liu, “Nova Verba, Mundus Novus”
Kelly Luce, “Ideal Head of a Woman”
Tim Major, “Read/Write Head”
Katie Manning, “Baba Yaga’s Answer”
Laurent McAllister, “Kapuzine and the Wolf: A Hortatory Tale”
Martha McCollough, “valley of the talking dolls” and “adventures of cartoon bee”
Marc McKee, “A Moment in Fill-In-The-Blank City”
Sequoia Nagamatsu, “Headwater LLC”
Jerry Oltion, “A Star Is Born”
Richard King Perkins II, “The Sleeper’s Requiem”
Ursula Pflug, “Airport Shoes”
Leonard Richardson, “Let Us Now Praise Awesome Dinosaurs”
Erica L. Satifka, “Thirty-Six Questions Propounded by the Human-Powered Plasma Bomb in the Moments Before Her Imminent Detonation”
G. A. Semones, “Never Forget Some Things”
Matthew Sanborn Smith, “The Empire State Building Strikes Back!”
Christina Sng, “Medusa in LA”
J. J. Steinfeld, “The Loudest Sound Imaginable”
Bonnie Jo Stufflebeam, “The Wanderers”
Lucy Sussex, “A Sentimental, Sordid Education”
Sonya Taaffe, “And Black Unfathomable Lakes”
Mary A. Turzillo, “Pride”
Deborah Walker, “Sea Monkey Mermaid”
Nick Wood, “The Girl Who Called the World”
K. Ceres Wright, “The Haunting of M117”
Ali Znaidi, “A Dolphin Scene” and “Australian Horoscope”

Contracts came Tuesday, were signed Wednesday, and went into the mail today.  And oddly they shared the same envelope, although they’re for very different projects.  For the first, in fact, there’s a funny story that goes back to when I had been in Boy Scouts, and of an over-zealous (though mercifully fictional) Scoutmaster who proposed a survival hike in which participants would spend a week in the woods with “nothing but a jock strap and a knife.”  And so, once upon a more recent time, I wrote a sort of absurdist story in which the horror trope of the defenseless woman lost in the woods being stalked by a monster would be ratcheted up, the victim becoming a college student in a “survival geology” course with nothing but a rock hammer, a thong, and a silver dollar.

The geology part, incidentally, was a spinoff from another story, “Ice Vermin,” which will be reprinted in Bards and Sages Publishing’s third volume in their GREAT TOMES anthology series (cf. June 9, et al.), THE GREAT TOME OF FANTASTIC AND WONDROUS PLACES (see specifically May 11), thus joining stories I already have in their first two entries.  And so by coincidence this new story, called “The Stalker,” seemed like it might fit in the fourth and last book, but there was a snag.  The editors thought the undies might make it too over the top, and so on request I rewrote a new, more modestly attired version.  And now the word has come (well, actually Tuesday), the new better dressed “Stalker” (well, actually the stalker’s victim, the stalker itself being more like fur-covered) has been accepted for Volume 4, THE GREAT TOME OF CRYPTIDS AND LEGENDARY CREATURES, set for a December 2016 publication — and so I have stories either out, or due out by the end of the year, in all four of the GREAT TOMES volumes.

But another coincidence now comes forth.  A new Bards and Sages project has been announced, THE SOCIETY OF MISFIT STORIES “to provide a loving home for those misfit tales that are too long for most periodicals but too short for print.”  This will be in electronic format only, with reprints allowed although unpublished stories are preferred, for tales between 5,000 and 20,000 words in length “in all speculative genres (horror, science fiction, slipstream, steampunk, magical realism, etc.).  We will also consider mysteries, thrillers, and action-adventure stories for this series.”  These will be bought for a modest sum, but only for a six-month period, subject to subsequent renewals by mutual consent.  And I have several stories that otherwise are doing nothing that fit the description.

So, long story short, Tuesday also brought a contract for my 9,800 or thereabouts word “By Force and Against the King’s Peace,” a fantasy-mystery originally published in ALFRED HITCHCOCK’S MYSTERY MAGAZINE in December 1999, and now tentatively scheduled for this September.

And for poetry. . . .  Well, I really don’t market poetry as much as I should, but this time I did.  So, having dispatched a group of five poems mostly on subjects involving teeth to the Alban Lake family of magazines, the reply came Tuesday from Editor Tyree Campbell:  “Of these, I’ll take two.  ‘Her First Time’ in the Nov 2016 BLOODBOND and ‘Zombie’ in the Dec 2016 DISTURBED.  In each case you’ll receive payment with your contributor’s copy.”  “Zombie,” fully titled “Zombie Trouble?” is sort of a mock sales pitch from a hypothetical pest control company, pointing out first the disturbances zombies are likely to cause the average household and, then, what the company will do about them.  “Her First Time,” on the other hand, is more straightforward, detailing the joyous experience a newly made vampiress receives when imbibing her first blood dinner (and never mind the cleaning bill for that ruined gown).

Summer solstice, June 20, Monday, and still catching up!  Yes the poetry was Tuesday, but what a flurry of activity the beginning of this summer has brought.  The revelation of — count ‘em! — two reprint mystery acceptances.  Also technically Monday though not read till Tuesday, the “Flightless Rats” proof sheets.  And also, posted today because there wasn’t room to do it before, but also punbookofhorror1received late Monday afternoon — and eleven months after its official British publishing date (see July 7 2015, et al.), the appearance in the Computer Cave’s non-electronic mailbox of KnightWatch Press’s TERROR TREE PUN BOOK OF HORROR STORIES.  The writing life, yes, these things do happen — and kudos to early EditorTheresa Derwin for rounding the copies up and getting them out.

But all’s well that ends well, my story in this being in a semi-prominent second-from last position (these being the stories the readers remember after the book has been put away), “Olé Bubba and the Forty Steves.”  Originally published in INTERNATIONAL HOUSE OF BUBBAS (Yard Dog Press, 2005), “Olé Bubba” is a light-hearted tale of yuppified zombies, non-zombie good ol’ boys, bodily processes, and the running of the bulls in Pamplona Spain.

Kudos today go to Susan Oleksiw who, via Facebook, reminded me that my flash noir tale “The Winning” went live, or at least the link thereto, on the Short Mystery Fiction Society’s blog as part of its celebration of International Short Story Month (cf. May 5).  “The Winning” was originally published in OVER MY DEAD BODY in Spring 1994, and in the version presented here, A TWIST OF NOIR, December 9 2008.  To read “The Winning” and other great stories — at least one a day, and mostly two, for each day this month — one may press here.

Then also this afternoon, continuing to peruse my email at the county library following my monthly writers’ group meeting, I came across this note from Lynn Stranathan of Yard Dog Press:  “Sorry for the rush, but the end of the school year is crushing and we’re trying to get ready for ConDome, too, so I need to get this put to bed or we won’t have it for SoonerCon.  So, if you have any corrections, it’s now or never.”  The subject, their upcoming short short anthology FLUSH FICTION II (see March 27) and my story in it, “Killer Kudzu.”  This one will be presented in, to give it its full title, FLUSH FICTION, VOLUME II:  TWENTY YEARS OF LETTING IT GO!, for the very first time.  While as for the proofreading, for which Lynn added, “I really do need any corrections by tomorrow evening, though, so please look at it ASAP,” the two typos I found will be sent back tonight.

There it was in the mailbox yesterday afternoon, a mystery package from CreateSpace.  With trembling fingers, one tore the box open and . . . yes . . . there it was!  From an original acceptance in November 2014, a little delayed, from one of three anthologies now combined into one, my science fiction story, “The Needle-Heat Gun” (see February 22 2016; November 6, 7 2014).  The anthology, to give its full title, NIGHT LIGHTS, AN ANTHOLOGY OF SHORT GeminidPressNightLightsFICTION:  FIRST CONTACT, CONSPIRACY, AND SPACE OPERA from Geminid Press, more on which can be found by clicking here.

My story is in the “Space Opera” section for reasons apparent, I think, when one reads it, a tale no more serious than it needs to be. And it’s second from last in the anthology proper,  the last spot usually good to be in since it’s one the readers will remember but in this case taken by a shorter story that had to be there — one with greater-than-natural implications — and thus nicely positioned in its own right.

Then the second item, the edited proof  from Clifford Garstang of Press 53 for “The Wellmaster’s Daughter,” originally published in ALFRED HITCHCOCK’S MYSTERY MAGAZINE in November 1991, along with the contract.  The book for this one, to give its full title, EVERYWHERE STORIES VOLUME II:  MORE SHORT FICTION FROM A SMALL PLANET (cf. February 29, below), scheduled to be published in November this year.




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